The Canadian Encyclopedia says this about the "early" organ works of Healey Willan (1880-1968): With the music for organ one enters a different world. Here Willan was thoroughly at home and made a significant and lasting contribution. One work stands out: the monumental "Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue" of 1916. The Preludes and Fugues in C minor and B minor and the "Epilogue" are the other major works from this period. While not exploring the possibilities of the instrument as searchingly as his masterpiece, they are idiomatic and very typical of their time. They combine an innate Englishness (with a Stanfordian flavour) and a European chromaticism that can be found in Reger and Karg-Elert.
Born in England, Willan became organist-choirmaster of Toronto's largest church, St. Paul's, Bloor Street, but it was his royalties as a composer which allowed him to leave "low church" St. Paul's in 1921 and to become Precentor of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene (Toronto).
The well-known tune, "St. Flavian" is found in John Day's "Psalter," dating from 1562. It is linked with several texts, but the one for Lent, "Lord, who throughout these forty days" is probably the most usual joining.
This small partita is found in Willan's "Ten Hymn Preludes", published by Peters, and dating from 1956. In it, we see the composer's easy mastery of the variation form, with some really cleverness and technique in these variations.
The quick 2nd variation is very Bach-like, with its energy, and the final variation for the full organ is in impressive in its powerful solemnity.
The Armley organ is always grand, but I'm not sure it was the ideal choice for this piece, as some more "something" seems like it would have improved this, but I know that many enjoy this organ (as do I!).
"Lord, who throughout these forty days
for us did fast and pray,
teach us with you to mourn our sins
and close by you to stay."
The score is attached below, as well as several photos of Healey Willan.